The same problem seems to arise if God and His purposes are offered as the ultimate explanation of the value and meaning of our lives. The idea that our lives fulfil God's purpose is supposed to give them their point, in a way that doesn't require or admit of any further point. One isn't supposed to ask "What is the point of God?" any more than one is supposed to ask, "What is the explanation of God?"

[What does it all mean? - Thomas Nagel, Chapter X]

I've got two questions to ask.

  • Is "the point of God" God's aim?
  • What is the difference between "explanation of God" and "explanation for God". In the context above, does "explanation of God" mean "description of God"?

Many thanks

2 Answers 2


The "point" of something is its meaning or purpose:
American Heritage Dictionary "point"

  1. An objective or purpose to be reached or achieved, or one that is worth reaching or achieving: What is the point of discussing this issue further?

So, "the point of God" is not the purpose of God, but the purpose of humans in having such an idea. If one uses the idea of "God" to give a higher or external purpose to existence and life, then one can't ask what is the purpose of God, because one ends up with the same question: what is the ultimate purpose?

In that passage, "explanation of God" doesn't mean "description of God", but rather, where did God come from? How did God arise?

Nagel's argument is that the idea of God doesn't solve any philosophical problem. The questions of purpose [point] and explanation of existence were pushed one step further away by the invention of God. If the same questions are applied to the idea of God, what was gained? So, "one isn't supposed to ask...".

You could use "explanation for ..." in place of "explanation of..." It wouldn't make much difference.


explanation of God means: what explains God. My explanation of grammar is A, B and C.

explanation for God are what people say to explain God.

the point of something in English means the reason for it.

What's the point of this discussion?

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